From social politeness ("please", "thank you", etc) to the technical Japanese grammatical concepts of honorifics and respectful and humble forms known as "keigo".

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99 views

How do you ask if you are understood without being rude?

For example explaining to an acquaintance or a stranger something, but I don't know if it's understood or not and would like to ask. In English I would say something like "I'm sorry, was my ...
2
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0answers
66 views

Use of です after informal verb conjugation [duplicate]

The following sentence I saw confuses me: わたしは すしが たべられないです。 So it takes the verb たべる (to eat), turns it into the potential form たべられる(to be able to eat) and then conjugates it in to the ...
3
votes
1answer
109 views

Help with Kenjougo!

I'm trying to come up with a polite introduction. Hajimemashite. Watashi wa Megan to moushimasu. Tekisasu kara mairimashita. watashi wa kentakkii-shuu ni sunde orimasu. Sumimasen, watashi ...
5
votes
3answers
540 views

Is it polite in Japan to ask if someone speaks English? (英語を話せますか?)

As preparation for my trip, I am re-learning my Japanese. I imagined a scenario which I am not sure if it is okay to ask. Is it polite to ask someone if they speak English or are people offended by ...
4
votes
1answer
174 views

How to ask for something, formally, but on the internet

I don't really have a great understanding of Japanese internet culture, but as a Korean, I'm guessing it would be quite similar to ours in terms of "formality," as both Korean and Japanese have ...
2
votes
3answers
613 views

How to convert verbs from polite form to dictionary form?

Does anyone have a good rule for converting to dictionary (u)form from masu form regarding the different verb groups? Most websites start with dictionary and go to masu but I learned starting with ...
5
votes
2answers
480 views

Polite or casual?

Is this sentence polite or casual? Or even better. Is it correct to use this casual type of sentences inside another more polite? This is the sentence: 時間がなかったからパーティーに行きませんでした。 Wouldn't it be ...
0
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1answer
99 views

Is 何歳ですか polite? [duplicate]

何歳ですか (なんさいですか) - How old are you? Is it usual for Japanese to ask each other how old they are, and if it is, how do they go about and ask it? Is there a polite way to ask, or do you not ask this at ...
0
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0answers
46 views

Only 〜ます in ending verb vs. 〜ませんでした [duplicate]

As I understand, 〜ます should only be used in the ending verb while others inside the sentence should be in basic form. How come, then, that the polite past negative tense is made using 〜ませんでした, which ...
5
votes
1answer
256 views

Respectful way to say “policeman”

Let's say I want to call a policeman, or I am in a n-person conversation involving a policeman and I want a word to refer to the policeman. And let's say I want a respectful word. I believe おまわりさん ...
5
votes
1answer
258 views

How do you politely and gratefully reply to an invitation to be published?

Is there a set phrase for politely replying to an invitation to have your academic paper published as a journal article? I presented a paper at a Japanese academic conference, and I've received an ...
3
votes
1answer
232 views

Politely asking to stay at someone's home? お邪魔させてもらう、泊めてもらう、or 滞在させてもらう?

Which of the following is the most polite? Is any of them incorrect? Is there a more standard way to ask someone if you could stay with them while in town? ~ 8日から9日まで、あなたのお宅にお邪魔させてもらえませんか。 ~ ...
8
votes
3answers
287 views

Is おつかれさん “correct” Japanese to address to someone of lower status?

I have noticed in various environments that some people will sometimes, when speaking to someone of lower status, say おつかれさん instead of お疲れ様. Similarly one might here ご苦労さん instead of ご苦労様. I've ...
6
votes
2answers
166 views

Why does the waiter use past tense here

When I was trying to order a set meal in the restaurant, the waiter said Aランチのほうでよろしかったでしょうか I am not sure why the past tense よろしかった is used here, I personally would say Aランチのほうでよろしいでしょうか ...
7
votes
1answer
553 views

How impolite is it to call a waitress お姉{ねえ}さん?

Were I in a situation where I want to get the attention of a waitress in a noisy restaurant, I kind of feel like calling-out: "お姉{ねえ}さん、すみませんが、ビールもう一本お願いできますか?". I think that I've seen this done in a ...
5
votes
2answers
842 views

How would you say “if you don't mind my asking”?

This is something that is often said in English to politely ask a question while avoiding sounding overly intrusive. For example, What do you do for a living, if you don't mind my asking? The ...
6
votes
1answer
637 views

Addressing strangers without knowing the name

How does one address a stranger in a casual conversation when name is unknown? For example, I had a conversation with an older Japanese lady and I wanted to compliment her on her English (but in ...
2
votes
1answer
281 views

Usage and meaning of とのことです

I see this often in business emails, I guess it is not very important in terms of meaning but I couldn't find any post on stackexchange about it. What does とのことです add to a sentence? Here is the ...
2
votes
1answer
222 views

“Ungrammatical” 丁寧語 used by tour guides and museum narrators

I noticed on my trip to Japan that tour guides in museums etc use a very interesting type of language. It seems to be used almost exclusively by people in Osaka and Kyoto. There are two features that ...
6
votes
2answers
223 views

Why do Japanese businessmen use 「さん」 even with うち names in meetings with foreigners

I noticed that many Japanese businessmen tend to address the colleagues they are traveling with, or even introduce themselves as ◯◯◯さん. This would clearly be a faux-pas in a Japanese-only meeting, yet ...
4
votes
1answer
271 views

The use of passive voice to describe the Emperor's activities

The Imperial Palace gardens were opened to the public recently to celebrate the Emperor's 80th birthday. Can someone confirm the use of the passive voice in the following sentence on the subject in ...
8
votes
1answer
799 views

What to say at the cash register in the convenience store

I just came back from Japan, it is my first time, so I found myself in the situations, that I wasn't prepared for. At the convenience store I noticed natives tend not to say much to the staff at all, ...
4
votes
1answer
132 views

Questions about `〜はる` 敬語

One thing I've never fully gotten a grasp on is the 〜はる form of "敬語", and I have some questions about it. Is it official 敬語 recognized by the 文部省, or is it just more of a regionally accepted ...
5
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2answers
165 views

Dropping ーさん when referring to someone humbly with 謙譲語

Why aren't we referring to Yamada as Yamada-san in the following sentences taken from the answer to a recent question (which took them from site at: http://www.e-hoki.com/column/current/68.html) ...
5
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1answer
157 views

Is 拝見いたしました an example of 二重敬語?

二重敬語 is presumably considered bad style (or simply incorrect). I hear/read 拝見いたしました all the time. Is it an example of 二重敬語? I understood 二重敬語 to be a little more complex than "used a polite form ...
2
votes
4answers
929 views

Is telling a superior, “電子メールを見てくださいました,” correct?

Imagine wanting to tell a superior something along the lines of, "I saw/read/received your e-mail." In Japanese, there's sometimes something with using the te form along with words like くださる and もらう ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

How to say “no thank you, I don't want / need it”?

Sometimes I am offered something but because I'm just a beginner I don't know what verb they used. I know the proper way to say "no" is to answer with the negative form of the verb the other person ...
3
votes
2answers
913 views

How to refuse an invitation with a specific reason?

It is commonly taught that the polite way to refuse an invitation is "ちょっと。。。" However, how do you refuse an invitation, while giving a reason? For example, would it still be considered polite to say ...
3
votes
1answer
122 views

Adding でしょうか to ます to further emphasize doubt and politeness?

Let's use できる as an example. できる (I) can do (it)/possible (action/event). できるか? Can do?/Possible? できますか? Can do?/Possible? (polite) Believe it or not, できますか? still sounds too direct to me. Now ...
8
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3answers
317 views

How many times should 「お」 and 「ご」 be used in a sentence?

In this Chiebukuro question about whether it should be ご心配無用 or 心配ご無用, one answerer says the following: 「ご」とか「お」で丁寧とか尊敬とかを表す場合、 一番最後のものにだけつけておけば 全体にかかると言われているようです。 たとえば ...
5
votes
4answers
548 views

How to answer -だね question?

So I've come to learn that something + だね means something along the lines of "Is it __?" with an expected yes answer. I received this kind of comment as a response to a photo I posted on the internet. ...
4
votes
2answers
198 views

When and where did 丁寧語 emerge?

I've been reading some old text recently and I find that everybody seems to use plain forms even in polite contexts (like proclamations from the Emperor). When did the modern ます and です come from? I ...
4
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2answers
259 views

Choice of さしあげる in お電話さしあげる

I'm a bit confused by the usage of さしあげる in this sentence from Kanji in Context: ただ今、来客中ですので、後ほどこちらからお電話さしあげます。 We have a guest at the moment, so we'll call you later. To me, お電話いたします or even ...
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0answers
278 views

How important is gendered language in reality? [closed]

Many people say that gendered language is especially important in Japanese. To a point, I can understand this, but only to a certain distance. For example, if I (Fe/male) were to say 'Wow, that show ...
12
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2answers
714 views

Addressing a friend's parents when meeting them for the first time

I have met the parents of a close Japanese friend two times in my life and have never been sure how I should address them. Both times I've asked the friend beforehand but never got a satisfactory ...
3
votes
2answers
495 views

With whom to use different honorific forms? 丁寧語より尊敬語・謙譲語・丁重語

With whom is it considered proper to use 尊敬語・謙譲語・丁重語 instead of 丁寧語? I mean saying おいでになります・伺います・参ります instead of 行きます. The often given example is for a service-person speaking with a customer, but ...
2
votes
1answer
271 views

What is the etymology of 〜ません(でした)?

I have always been interested in the negative polite (〜ません) and negative past-polite (〜ませんでした) inflections of verbs. My understanding is that ます is an inflectable function word (助動詞), so I'm ...
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votes
3answers
2k views

Polite way of asking if someone's received an email

What's a polite way of asking in an email if you've received a previous email? In my case, "polite" means "I'm emailing the tourism information staff of a place that mainly deals with domestic ...
6
votes
1answer
767 views

“If I may ask a question, …”

Our teacher taught us to ask for the permission to ask a question by saying「質問してもいいですか。」. Now I'm writing her an email, and would like to say something along the lines of "If I may ask a question, ...
3
votes
1answer
402 views

When speaking with client, how to say “I will tell my coworker”

I have found this in a phone usage manual (電話対応マニュアル) written by a Japanese person: かしこまりました。必ず田中に申し伝えます。それでは失礼いたします。 (speaking to customer over the phone) Understood. I will tell Tanaka (my ...
5
votes
1answer
177 views

Politeness level congruency

This question comes from observing a game show called ガキの使いやあらへんで ("instant miso soup" episode), where the participants have to match a product to the one they consume while blindfolded. They are only ...
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2answers
272 views

Politeness on Twitter

I tweet in Japanese every once in awhile, sometimes to Japanese people and sometimes to all of my followers. I haven't really been able to figure it out, so how does politeness work on Twitter? Some ...
4
votes
1answer
332 views

How would I respectfully disagree with a peer?

This is probably related to How would I respectfully disagree with a superior? however the context is a tech forum where the thread starter is asking for someone technically advanced to help, and the ...
4
votes
1answer
271 views

When should the polite form of 〜たり be used?

I've noticed that I don't see 〜ましたり used very often, but it does seem to be an accepted form. I believe this form can be broken down like this: 動詞{どうし}の連用形{れんようけい}+「ます」の連用形{れんようけい}+「たり」 My ...
8
votes
1answer
333 views

Is it actually impolite to say ご苦労様 to a superior?

Conventional ビジネスマナー tells us that ご苦労様 is used by superiors to subordinates and お疲れ様 used by everyone, and this is backed up all over the internet and stated on some questions here, like this. But ...
13
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1answer
431 views

Should I say 失礼{しつれい}します before hanging up the phone if the other person called me?

Phone etiquette is one of those things I still struggle with at times, often fumbling because I'm not sure what expression I'm supposed to use at a given time. 失礼します at the end of a phone call is one ...
5
votes
1answer
453 views

How should I bid farewell to a superior?

My boss is leaving soon after years of service. What would be a good way for me to express my gratitude for all of his guidance and help? I am somewhat familiar with the expression お世話になりました but am ...
7
votes
3answers
565 views

Difference in nuance between 頂ければと思います, 頂けませんか, and 頂きたいんですけども

I've recently started using the expression 頂ければと思います, but I'm not 100% sure about its precise nuance. Is there any difference in nuance between 頂ければと思います 頂けませんか 頂きたいんですけども? To my non-native ear, ...
6
votes
2answers
514 views

Difference in word use: 父親 母親 両親 父母

I would like to ask about the following words: 父親【ちちおや】 and 母親【ははおや】. They refer to father and mother, right? But why do they exist? When do we use them instead of お父【とう】さん and お母【かあ】さん? I have a ...
7
votes
1answer
255 views

Situational acceptability of politeness and/or honorific use

Consider: I am expected to use polite forms when speaking to someone socially above me. Let's take for example, a teacher. If our relationship improves, and it becomes permissible for me to speak ...